Disney just got some additional ammo in its battle to acquire Fox's entertainment assets.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a statement on Wednesday saying it would approve Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) planned $71.3 billion acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.'s (FOXA) movie and TV assets, but would require Disney "to divest 22 Regional Sports Networks as a condition."
"American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox's cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher," said assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. "Today's settlement will ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution."
"The acquisition of 21st Century Fox will bring significant financial value to the shareholders of both companies, and after six months of integration planning we're even more enthusiastic and confident in the strategic fit of the assets and the talent at Fox," said Disney CEO Bob Iger when the media company upped the ante. Iger touted Disney's head start in securing regulatory approval for its deal for the Fox's asset as an additional advantage of his firm's bid.
Heading into afternoon trading following the news, Disney was up 1.3% to $105.57 a share, Fox was up 1.8% to $48.56 a share, and Comcast was flat at $32.77. Over the past year, Disney shares are down nearly 2%.